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Article from Making Music, May 1987

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Attentive radio listeners will have already heard of Bill Wyman's AIMS (Ambition, Ideas, Motivation, and Success) Project, which is intended to help up-and-coming musicians around the country. Although the scheme has only just been announced, and is currently negotiating for backing, it should work like this.

The first step will be announcements via local radio and the press, asking interested (and interesting) young bands to submit demo tapes. A number of cities have been picked (provisionally Portsmouth, Norwich, Cardiff, Nottingham, Exeter, Liverpool, Durham, Edinburgh, and Belfast or Dublin) on the basis of existing recording facilities and geographical location. You'll despatch a tape to your nearest venue, where it will be listened to by a panel of musicians, including Andy Fairweather-Low and Bill Wyman himself. Anyone rejected at this stage is promised a "critique/assessment" of their music.

Those who win the panel's approval will be recorded in their nearest AIMS town by the Rolling Stones' 48-track Mobile Studio. The truck will spend up to 10 days at each venue, giving bands the opportunity to work with high quality gear at someone else's expense.

There'll be an opportunity for particularly promising new acts to carry on working with the Stones' recording crew, and five of the best will be picked to appear alongside some big names at a London charity concert.

Perhaps more importantly than this, the acts will be offered professional advice and encouragement. And who is better placed to give this than a member of the Rolling Stones? While Andy Fairweather-Low will take responsibility for training and production, Bill himself will also visit each venue during the recording period.

So far, Bill has put up all of the money to get the scheme off the ground. With an operating budget of £220,000 for the first year, what's needed now is sponsorship from big businesses. Local councils have been enthusiastic about AIMS, and in some areas have agreed to help meet operating costs. They'll be expected to help provide suitable halls for recording the groups.

Don't rush off to the Post Office — the AIMS Project isn't off the ground yet, so any tapes that are despatched now will arrive before the organisation is geared up to deal with them. Wait for further announcement before you do anything — we'll let you know. You'll be expected to send demos to local collection points, usually a local radio station.

It all sounds pretty idyllic, but what's in it for Bill Wyman? The AIMS organisers are at pains to stress that this is purely a philanthropic scheme, thought up and funded by a musician who wants to put something back into the business that's given him his living for the last 25 years or so.

We'll be following the progress of The AIMS Project over the next few months. It looks as though it could have been designed with many of our readers in mind, so we be interested to hear of any experiences you have with Mr Wyman and his cohorts. But in the meantime, just hang on.


Could your group be government sponsored? Chesterfield group Gah-Ga may be leading the way with their exploitation of two government schemes. And you can relax — it doesn't mean on-stage speeches about the fabness of monetarism, or guest spots on records by Norman 'Funky' Tebbit.

Gah-Ga was originally a duo, and last November Owen Downey and Keith Bell were granted an Enterprise Allowance Scheme (EAS) to set up a promotions company called Itz Fixx.

If you're unemployed and have a viable idea for a business, EAS provides a guaranteed £40 a week during the first year, without loss of benefit. The grant is normally arranged through your local Job Centre and by interviews with area team leaders. Normally the grants go to more conventional business ideas — computer software, home-built furniture and so on — but the crucial phrase to bear in mind is 'a viable idea for a business'. Owen and Keith's group and promo company were evidently just this.

The second scheme which the group benefitted from is the Youth Training Scheme (YTS), the aim of which is to provide school leavers with recognised training and work experience. Once again, this training tends to be of a conventional nature, but a few months ago Keith and Owen applied for two YTS trainees to become singers with Gah-Ga.

"We encountered a terrible attitude problem with the authorities," said Owen. "Chesterfield isn't the best of places to start up something as strange as this. Most of the organisations we approached simply played it safe with their YTS trainees, placing them in office work. We had to convince them we could provide proper training in singing, together with the business side of the pop industry."

Gah-Ga eventually found Sarah Rickard and Sue Smith, placed with them as YTS trainees by a company called Response. Some success has followed the formation of this new line-up, including local gigs (eg Moulin Rouge) as well as dates in Liverpool, Manchester and London (Le Beat Route).

Employment manager for Chesterfield, Ian Ford, was naturally pleased that the schemes had proved so useful. "This is the first such government sponsored pop group in the country," he reckoned, "and I think it clearly shows that we are prepared to back anyone who can make something out of their business. It is a great tribute to all concerned that the group is so professional." Your turn?


Just 150 yards from where "The Tube" was transmitted is an organisation trying to bring some real help to musicians. Sound Advice is a charity which has been set up in the Riverside complex, Newcastle upon Tyne, to help "young people wishing to further themselves in the arts world".

Sound Advice aims to provide a centre for the exchange of musicians' skills and information. Local players can drop in for help and advice on forming a band, instrument loan and tuition, local and country-wide gigs, and approaches to outside agencies and record companies.

Sound Advice organiser Rob Brown told Making Music, "I need finance to get these things going, but record companies won't even give me moral support. I don't really want to get involved with the Musicians Union because they're only interested in collecting their over-exorbitant membership fees and doing nothing for bands working at the bottom end of the financial scale. Basically, I want people to get in touch." Do so: Sound Advice, (Contact Details). Mon-Sat 1pm-4pm.


James Brown: The Godfather of Soul
by James Brown and Bruce Tucker
The point of an autobiography is that it tells you things about a person that no-one else could know.

This book purports to be the autobiography of The Godfather of Soul, James Brown. Firstly, there's very little here that hasn't appeared in soul books and biographical articles. We learn what the young James liked to eat and the name of his favourite circus, but not why he wanted to take on the white man at his own game and win.

We do, however, learn how James Brown wants to be remembered, or at least, how the carefully-moulded persona "James Brown" wants to be remembered. Which is this: he's an individual, he's a proud black man, he's a patriotic American and he makes records. "Don't give me a welfare check, give me a job so I can fare well," he says at one point, in a one-liner that would serve for his epitaph.

What we lack is detail. Instead we get the transcript of a series of tape-recorded interviews in which none of the points raised is followed up and the hard questions are left out. The book says it loud, he's black and he's proud. He's also a musician who likes lean, three-string guitar chords and a band made up of plodders who do what they're told in preference to stars who don't. And, no-one can have worked harder for his own music.

But the elements of self-doubt, of irony and of insight, which might have prevented this being one more bland showbiz autobiography, are never given a chance. John Morrish


We've been notified of a few additions and corrections to update our 'Who Makes It?' chart. Published in last month's issue, the chart comprehensively detailed the manufacturers and distributors of musical instruments and gear in the UK. So, check these: Dean Markley UK no longer exists; info on their strings and amps now comes from Rhino. Kawai UK's correct address is (Contact Details). DOD studio effects now come via Sound Technology (whose new phone number is (Contact Details)); stage effects remain with Rhino. Mesa/Boogie amps are imported by Rocky Road Co, (Contact Details). Make these changes to your chart now to ensure its accuracy. If you haven't got the original chart, see the back issue section elsewhere and order yourself a copy of issue 13. It's invaluable, honest.


Elton John's favourite is the Tower Of London... Oh — you mean tour news. Like David Bowie's friend Iggy (if he was bald, he'd be Wiggy) Pop will be doing ten dates in June starting on the 11th in Bristol, and finishing with two dates at Hammersmith Odeon on 23rd and 24th?

Or even Richard Thompson takes to the road on May 9th for a 29-date tour of 26 British cities, which is too many for us to list. This is his first solo outing in five years, and is not to be missed as he is v good live.

That spiffing Petrol Emotion start a 16-gig tour on May 2nd at Brighton Poly, and finish it in Sheffield on Saturday 23rd. Their new album is due early this month.

IQ doing it live too, from May 10th (Bournemouth), plugging their new LP "Nomzamo". Other gigs include Leeds Astoria, Bath Pavilion, Nottingham Rock City, and Manchester International. We thought that last one was an airport...

David Bowie (for it is he) gets ready to sneeze over Wembley (June 19th/20th), Cardiff Arms Park (21st), and Roker Park in Sunderland (23rd).


It's time to open your Postman Pat Diary and make some marks. First, a commendable series of home recording seminars undertaken by experienced Gateway School of Recording mainperson Dave Ward in conjunction with Fostex. Each day-long, fully equipped seminar will cover hints and tips on eq, reverb, compression, miking, MIDI-sync and video-sync techniques, followed by a question-and-answer session. Tickets are £11 per day, available together with more info from the music shops noted in brackets after the venues: 2 May Crest Hotel, Newcastle upon Tyne (J G Windows, Central Arcade): 3 May Albany Hotel, Glasgow (Sound Control, Saltmarket); 9 May Royal Hotel, Cardiff (Gwent Music, Wharton Street); 10 May Ladbroke Dragonara Hotel, Bristol (Bristol Guitar Workshop, St Michael's Hill); 16 May Wellington Park Hotel, Belfast (Crymbles, Dublin Road); 17 May Music Maker (instore, Exchequer Street).

Other come-soon happenings to note: the "Rock 'n' Roll Showdown" at Birmingham Odeon on 19 May is an event organised by Sandwell College, Wednesbury, to showcase five "exciting, aspiring local acts" and is in aid of a children's charity. Details from Paul Tovey at the college ((Contact Details)).

Channel Four's 'The Chart Show' returns to the box on 1 May at 6.15, compiled from the chart received at lunchtime the same day (cor, fast work chaps!) and features video premieres of visuals to accompany Blondie and Falco. Presumably some music, too. Earlier that evening (5.30), "Solid Soul" makes its Ch-F comeback, too, featuring Millie Jackson, the Gap Band and Seventh Heaven. Thursday evenings on Radio 2 at 9pm, this month and next, you can hear a new country music series, "Hit It Boys", introduced by Ricky Scaggs, covering 'roots to high-tech'.


The vaunted Emax sampling keyboard is now available in rackmounting form... DOD have announced two new effects pedals, the £80 FX35 Octoplus octave divider which adds a note one octave below the input, and the PDS20/20 Multiplay (£260), which promises rack-mounting versatility in a foot pedal. It gives full bandwidth, chorus and flanging, and up to two seconds delay. Both pedals have the DOD three-year guarantee... two new vocal mikes from those nice Beyer persons — the £149 M700 is a "rugged" dynamic hypercardioid polar pattern thingy which Beyer claim is "completely insensitive to feedback". The MCE80 is the high quality supercardioid electret condenser mike which will take either battery or phantom power supply. It's also £299... Yankee chaps ART have introduced a rack-mounted microprocessor controlled graphic equaliser, called the IEQ (Intelligent Equaliser). Digital doobries control analogue circuitry, and all is revealed on the IEQ's LCD display. It will memorise 128 EQ settings, all of which can be recalled via MIDI... if you want a poster of drummers Clem Burke, Nigel Glockler, and Jeff Rich, that doubles as a Premier catalogue, send an A4 sized SAE to Poster Offer (Making Music), (Contact Details)... Atari computer owners will relish the news that Syndromic ((Contact Details)) have just launched the new ST software label. First release is a Voice Master for the DX21/27/100, with Editor, Librarian, and Randomizer, all for £50...

And we now have transmission details for the second series of BBC's "Rockschool" teach-yourself-rock-music progs. They start on 15 July at 7.35pm on BBC2, and every Wednesday for eight weeks. Hallelujah.


THIS IS THE FIRST ISSUE OF OUR SECOND YEAR. So why not have a change, we thought?

After all, this last year we've brought you great interviews with some pretty spiffing musicianly type persons, many of whom would have had the word "exclusive" emblazoned across them had they appeared in less refined journals.

This month we decided to step off the beaten track, pick up some of those stones, and see what wriggled. We wanted to know just what is going on beyond the rockist thrash of guitar, keyboard, bass and drums.

And the short answer, we discovered, is: rather a lot.

A longer answer can be discerned by reading the four main interviews in this issue.

First, there are two musicians. Courtney Pine tells how he breathes life into British Jazz through his shiny horns, balancing improvisational flair against compositional solidity. Then Joe Jackson explains why his new LP is totally instrumental, and how he scored the work to combine orchestral and electronic sounds. Lots of new noises, then, and some gooey theories for you to get stuck into.

And then there are two non-musicians. Douglas Adams is an author — he wrote the wonderful sci-fi-comedy 'Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy' — but his obsession is music, and he recounts how this has spilled over into his new book. Andy Kershaw is a disc jockey — but one with the unusual attribute of an interest in music. His current obsession is country music, and the good Andy guides us, via some illuminating stories, to some influential records that we're all now desperate to hear.

All in, we hope that the interviews in this Off The Beaten Track special will get the old grey matter working. Are we no good to you? Now get reading.

What, we asked Derwood from Westworld, could you possibly want with a square guitar?

"Well, I'm a fan of Bo Diddley," he told us from the depths of a session at Red Bus studio.

That would explain it.

Mr Diddley played a square Gretsch concoction on most of his Fifties and Sixties rock 'n' roll classics.

Before Derwood had even recorded 'Sonic Boom Boy' with Westworld, he dug out a photo of the said Diddley with the said square guitar and took it down to guitar maker Tom Mates in south London. Tom had offered to make a "solid acoustic guitar, any shape you like".

So a little time and £400 later, the black and yellow square 'un was finished. It has an Ovation bridge-mounted transducer, a fuzz box built in the back (switchable thanks to a red button on the front), and the neck has the same profile as Derwood's fave Strat.

And that was all a year ago. Now, guitar maker Tom has made Derwood another one. What's he changed? "The neck joins the body two frets higher — useful when you're playing in E. And it's red. That's it," explained Derwood. It is indeed.

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Publisher: Making Music - Track Record Publishing Ltd, Nexus Media Ltd.

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Making Music - May 1987

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